Alternative Food and Feed Products
Globally, the demand for traditional protein sources (livestock and fish) is expected to grow by 76% from 2007 to 2050 (Alexandratos and Bruinsma, 2012). This increase is due to not only a growing population but also changing diets in developing countries compared to developed nations (Rosegrant et al., 2012). Land that is not suitable cultivation of crops can often efficiently be used to graze livestock. However, overgrazing and the creation of new pastures at the expense of natural ecosystems have detrimental environmental impacts. In addition, the projected increased meat production may also lead to a rise in greenhouse gas emissions, in addition to placing further pressure on natural resources (such as arable land and freshwater) and exacerbating the competition between humans and animals for grains and other high-quality plant food/feed (OECD/FAO 2017).
With the growing world population to be fed, there is a pressing critical need to provide additional food and animal feeds that are both safe and nutritious for sustainable products that can food safety while at the same time minimizing environmental footprints.
To fill this gap, alternative food, and feed products are receiving growing attention worldwide.
Within this challenging context, new and emerging solutions need to be considered in order to ensure a sustainable food supply: this brief will outline some considerations and perspectives on alternative food and feed products.
Livestock Feed additives (needs further work from Daniela)
Livestock intensification requires producing more with fewer inputs. Advances in nutritional research and innovation are being leveraged to promote optimal animal health and production. Modern livestock production aims to understand the critical growth needs of the animals, and the varying ability to absorb and effectively utilize dietary nutrients which should result in increasingly allowing for the formulation of more balanced feed formulation in order rations to avoid that provide the necessary feed components without over-supplying valuable nutrients. “over-supply ”.
Feed additives, including probiotics, plant-derived extracts as well as enzymes can support the maintenance of the intestinal barrier, reduce the variability of nutrient utilization and improve the animal´s ability to cope with and recover from immunological challenges. Supplemental enzymes, like phytases, proteases, carbohydrases, and xylanases can improve nutrient release and digestibility, while specific hydrolases are used to counteract undesirable contaminants, like mycotoxins, transforming them into non-toxic metabolites, allowing for the use of feeds that would otherwise be wasted.
Well-nourished animals are also healthier. Recently, the feed additives sector has observed a loss of development and research mainly aimed to improve animal health, make more efficient use of available feedstock and reduce GHG emissions.
Healthier animals are less prone to disease, and need fewer inputs (such as antimicrobials) to grow; this in turn, will result in reduced food safety risks due to zoonoses and carriage of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria. In addition, Supplemental enzymes, like phytases, proteases, carbohydrases, and xylanases can improve nutrient release and digestibility, while specific hydrolases are used to counteract undesirable contaminants, like mycotoxins, transforming them into non-toxic metabolites.
Insect-based feed and food products
Insects have traditionally been consumed as a part of the normal diet in a number of regions of the world. However, with the expected global market value for insects as food and animal feed to cross $1 billion USD by 2020, intensified insect farming is gaining traction. Indeed, in recent years there has been a growing interest in the possibility of using insect farming to meet the growing demand for protein in animal feeds and in the human diet due to the efficiency with which they can convert their feed into protein. Among the most promising species for industrial feed production are black soldier flies, common housefly larvae, silkworms, and yellow mealworms.
While limited available data so far show a low risk for transmission of zoonotic infections from the consumption of wild-collected insects, a detailed investigation is still pending to determine microbial hazards of consumption of farmed insects. At the same time, attention should be given to the possible bioaccumulation of undesirable chemicals from the environment that has been identified in farmed insects intended for animal feed (including pesticides residues and heavy metals ) (Vijver et al., 2003; Charlton et al., 2015).
Despite their longstanding use as a food source, there are very few laws and limited harmonization across national borders that address insect farming as food or feed, considering: procurement of ‘seed’ insects to start colonies, required farm infrastructure, and standards for the trading of the final products (Lahteenmaki-Uutela A.et al., 2017). While regulations for insects exist in some regions (eg in Europe) the lack of defined regulations in other parts of the world has allowed for a multitude of substrates being used for insect farming ranging from chicken feed to various waste streams including from animal sources, such as offal from slaughterhouses, with various possible food safety implications.
Moving forward, it will be important that policy-makers are provided with science and evidence on which to develop guidelines and regulations covering all aspects of insect entomoculture and entomopathy from primary production through processing and distribution and labeling to establish standards for safety and trade.
Algae (needs further work from Roland)
Marine algae (e.g. seaweeds, spirulina)have been researched for many years as alternative sources for protein, carbohydrates, and unsaturated fatty acids, both in open as well as in closed cycle production systems - the latter allowing better process control but at higher investment costs. Due to their composition and certain properties, there is high potential in human food, particularly as dietary supplements. At the same time, the emerging trend related to the increase in plant based feed in a rapidly growing sector like aquaculture might also offer further opportunities for use of these products.
However, new uses and applications of algae might also lead to the presence of hazards that are not traditionally expected in the resulting final food products. Attention should be given to issues like possible diverse patterns of pesticides and heavy metals occurrences, marine bio-toxins, or risks associated with the opportunism of certain epiphytic microalgae.
Circular bio-economy: recycling of food waste for feed
As one of the consequences of the growing efforts to reduce food waste, livestock stakeholders and policymakers are increasingly considering the option of using food waste as feed. Feeding these products to animals can help improve sustainable food production by reducing waste streams, and greenhouse gas emissions and supporting the so-called “circular bio-economy”.
However, the promotion of such an approach requires adequate up-front food safety attention in order to ensure that it does not lead to contaminants and/or pathogens entering (or even re-entering), persisting, or amplifying in the food chain and further spreading. To ensure the safe use of food waste and loss, some of the key considerations relating to the need to develop innovative technology for treatment and usage, ensure that traceability systems are in place together with standards and policies that provide an adequate regulatory framework. Incentives and investments to develop infrastructure for food waste and loss treatment and for the education of consumers and retailers to make the best possible use of food waste will be needed to ensure a successful implementation of this approach. For instance, some national authorities (do you want to spell out Japan?) have put in place laws to regulate food waste and loss recycling and have developed incentives for farmers and retailers such as a premium market for “eco-feed” animal products produced using food wastes and loss.
Use of food wastes as feed.
While efforts to reduce food losses have focused on the increase of the “best before” data of the food products or raising awareness among consumers and retailers, livestock stakeholders and policymakers increasingly consider the option to use food losses as feed. Feeding food losses to animals is a sustainable solution and brings more co-benefits by reducing waste streams, and greenhouse gas emissions and supporting a circular bio-economy. It comes with some threats such as risks of spreading animal diseases and food safety due to their potential chemical or microbial contamination. To ensure the safe use of food waste and loss and traceability, it is essential to develop innovative technology, retailer standards, and policies to frame their collection, treatment, and usage. These innovations can be supported by incentives and investment to develop infrastructure for food waste and loss treatment and the education of consumers and retailers to separate food waste and loss from other wastes. For instance, the Japanese government has put in place laws to regulate food waste and loss recycling and has developed incentives for farmers and retailers such as a market premium of “eco-feed” for animal products produced using food waste and loss.
New food and feed technologies have to include approaches to improve utilization of by-products, increase nutritional values, and monitor and prevent hazards, while exploiting industry 4.0 solutions and covering the whole product life cycle process, including farm management, feed, and water-related activities, logistics, as well as full value chain traceability.
Some of the alternatives presented in this brief might be able to offer valuable solutions if accompanied by adequate oversight and control to ensure their safety and appropriate application.
- Commission Regulation (EU) 2017/893 of 24. May 2017. Official Journal of the European Union. L 138/92 -116.
- EFSA (2015) Scientific Opinion on a Risk profile related to production and consumption of insects as food and feed, The EFSA Journal (2015);13 (10):4257.
- Krska, R., H. Sen Y Uva, J. Gilbert, H.J. Van Der Fels-Klerx, O. Mcnerney (2018) Smart Tools for Farmers to Provide Advice to Mitigate Fungal Infection and Mycotoxin Exposure. 299-204. In: S.C.O.P.E. Scientific Challenges and Opportunities in the Protein Economy. E.M. Binder (ed.) ISBN 978-3-200-05831-6.
- Ghanbari, M. and A. Köstelbauer (2018) Resistome: A New View by Next Generation Sequencing (NGS). 63-66. In: S.C.O.P.E. Scientific Challenges and Opportunities in the Protein Economy. E.M. Binder (ed.) ISBN 978-3-200-05831-6.
- OECD/FAO (2017), OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2017-2026, OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/agr_outlook-2017-en. Accessed January 1, 2019.
- WHO (2014) Antimicrobial Resistance: Global Report on Surveillance 2014. Geneva, Switzerland. World Health Organisation.